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SMC holds Mass, collects funds for Haiti relief

Alicia Smith | Tuesday, January 19, 2010

 Saint Mary’s College Campus Ministry offered a special Mass Monday in honor of the victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti.

The Mass provided the opportunity for students to join in prayer for those lost in the disaster. 
 
“We want to make sure we provide this opportunity for students and others on campus to be together in prayer for the people of Haiti. The Eucharist is a very significant way for us to actually gather in spiritual solidarity with those who are grieving and suffering,” Judy Fean, director of Campus Ministry said. “The Mass is a special way for us on campus to be united with the people of Haiti and through this unity to gain greater awareness of what our responsibility might be to assist in their recovery.”
 
During the Mass, a collection was held on behalf of the victims. The funds gathered during the collection will be distributed to Catholic Relief Services as well as the missions of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Haiti. Collections will also be taken up at Mass on Sunday at 7:15 p.m. in the Holy Spirit Chapel in LeMans Hall and at 9:15 p.m. in Regina Chapel in Regina Hall at the College.
 
According to Fean, during the Mass students offered prayers and lit candles “as a sign of hope in the darkness and trust in God’s love during this very tragic time.” 
 
The Mass offered a way for students to send their thoughts and prayers to the victims of the disaster as well as their family members.
 
One member of the College community was directly impacted by the disaster. 
 
Slandah Dieujuste, director of Residence Life and Community Standards, has 53 relatives located in the zone of the earthquake. Dieujuste recently heard from her relatives confirming one death and four presumable deaths.
 
“I can’t even put it into words. I was born in Haiti and came here when I was 9 years old. I have always considered myself Haitian,” Dieujuste said. “It’s a culture and country that I am proud of. It’s who I am. I think one of the most devastating things for me and my family is to watch and not be able to do anything. We are unable to send food or money. We just watch in agony.”
 
Throughout the tragedy, Dieujuste has found comfort in her local community.
 
“I am really thankful for the support of this community.  Everyone has been encouraging. This is helping with the pain,” she said. “One lesson that I have learned is to cherish those around you. If there’s anything I hope anyone takes from all this is to understand how fragile life is. You can lose everything, including your life, in a matter of seconds.”
 
Dieujuste encourages students to continue to pray and to donate if they can. 
 
“I hope students will donate. For those who can’t, I hope they continue to pray. Haiti needs prayers,” she said. “Donations are being accepted through so many different agencies. Anything helps.”
 
Dieujuste and her family are working with Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). For more information about ADRA, please visit adra.org.